Wall Street eyes earnings, looking for bottom

Financial Crisis Posted on

With little question the U.S. is in the grips of a recession, investors this week will lean on a stream of earnings and economic reports to help determine exactly how prolonged and painful the downturn might be.

There's certainly been fresh evidence the credit market has begun to thaw. But, that alone might not be enough to restore confidence in the stock market at a time when investors are clamoring for stronger signs of a bottom.

Trying to predict a floor for major U.S. stock market indexes has proven to be a difficult task. Wall Street ended a volatile two-week run fairly stable on Friday, and there were indications that bank-to-bank lending rates eased and that some companies returned to the bond market to raise cash.

Those indicators might have previously been enough to reassure anxious investors that the worst is over for the stock market. However, amid a financial crisis not seen for decades, analysts still remain cautious.

"If you can survive the whiplash of this bottom formation, then stocks look ridiculously cheap," said Edward Yardeni, president and market analyst at Yardeni Research. "But, there are bigger questions. Investors still want to see the light of day in this credit crisis, and they want to know if the current recession will be relatively short and shallow."

He said the biggest question facing Wall Street is whether the stock market's current levels have priced in all the pain that goes along with a recession. Indexes could slip even further if the market is sideswiped by a disappointing batch of economic news or dour corporate reports.

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